Friday, February 23, 2007

Groupthink

I'm going to start my blogging career here with a bit of a serious post - down the line I'll get sillier. I don't know if somebody's written about this before, but barely a month into blogging about hockey, I think I've got some questions to ask...

Our hockey blog started as a way to compress the many, many instant messages my friend Dave and I would throw at each other in the course of the day, every day. There was a real dearth of Flames blogs which weren't just gameday summaries, so naturally we plunked ourselves down there.

But something weird happened along the way. Other Flames blogs started appearing about the same time we got started. I've been privileged to watch a small but quite genuine community come into being, nurtured by vets such as our own Hockeygirl and Five-Hole Fanatics' Metrognome.

And it gets weirder. I don't know how many of you have noticed lately just how disappointing the Flames have been on the road - but rather than being able to shrug it off and just detach myself from the game, I'm getting more emotional, more frustrated, more engaged. And the coolest thing (depressing at present, but cool) is I'm finding that we're pushing each other into having similar opinions about the state of things.

I don't know whether it's HG's assessment that

I think you will soon see that we (your fellow Flames bloggers) have a way of balancing each other out; some serious, some humourous, some long-winded, some direct, but all awesome!
...so that our discussions end up weirdly generating some aggregate opinion distilled from our collective minds, or whether some of us are just better at convincing others to think about things differently. Or maybe just that now when somebody brings up an interesting point, we've got enough people that somebody else will have the time/energy/inspiration to take it up and run with it.

I've rarely had the chance to see a group of fans coming from so many different backgrounds come together and really talk about hockey. Formerly, I enjoyed hockey as pretty much a solo activity. Didn't know a lot of Flames fans out here, and at home, I'd watch games with family who weren't all that opinionated about the game. There were the good guys, and the bad guys, and the good guys were supposed to win. And that was it.

At present, I'm just trying to sort it all out. All new to me!

I guess I'll end this with some questions for those of you who've hung on long enough to get to the bottom of this post:

Am I hallucinating, or did any of you find the same thing when you started blogging?
How do you maintain your own distinct voice and perspective within your particular community? (Community's so stolid-sounding. Your tribe. Your peeps. You know who I mean)
What are things you did to help your community and fellow bloggers grow and become more interesting? (Not that they aren't right now...I'm just looking for an angle to call mine, all mine!)

4 comments:

Jordi said...

Interesting post, when I started I was a bewildered fan who had not read any hockey blogs before I started. I wrote because I really wanted to write some things, mostly trivial ones and to get it out of my system. Eventually HG contacted me and I was so stoked to see other fans.

I think one thing I'm pretty proud and excited of in the hlog is that most people dont feel like they have to post restrictedly (sure there are still limits but we have yet to really find anything worrying). This was exemplified in the time when Ovie hit Briere and chaos ensued. I think if anyone wants to speak up, they shouldn't feel like they will be kicked off or flamed. It's not hfboards and everyone has been providing very interesting and good arguments.

Additionally there are many people who are very good writers who don't have to maintain some sort of rep and there are so many teams out there. I made the hlog mainly because I wanted the talk to be hockey (hence hockey log = hlog) but just from other girls finding about each other the way I found HG and the other girls. We didn't have to cheer for the same team but we still found something engaging to talk about.

Nonetheless silliness is another part of this blog that I'm proud of :).

Elly said...

For me, when I started blogging (in cohorts with Steph), it was because I'm in such a little isolated island of football and nascar that no one up here will listen to me/care about what I'm saying. Steph and I started talking about hockey a few months before the Cup last year and kept sending things back and forth to each other...and eventually decided to stop spamming our personal journals/friends/family/the neighbor's dog with random hockey news and discussions. Of course, then it was the summer and the only thing we had were ideas, trade-talk, and the whole Pronger debacle to go off of.

Back on topic (I ramble), just personally, being a Penguins fan who grew up in isolation in Bruins Land (when they could tear themselves away from the Pats long enough), realizing that there were other Pens fans I could contact and be in a group with with AMAZING. It might sound silly, but basically living on a diet of snippets of news and Bruins/Pens games growing up, finding out that there was a whole community and multiple resources online was amazing. Especially now (I've only been apart of the online hockey community about a year and a half), with the arrival of Sidney and his merry band of rookies to make this one of the best Penguins' seasons in recent memory, all of the renewed interest, and new interest by fairweather fans (who I hope stick with it), and the arena/moving talks...it's an incredible time to be a Pittsburgh fan. To be able to find a distinct voice among that, and with all of the people basically saying the same thing, is difficult.

With all sports, and most other topics as well, you really can go one of three ways: agree, disagree, or remain neutral. Most Pens' fans think the same way, as do most Rangers' fans, or Flyers' fans. I think we're having a great season, Sidney has been wonderful, Fleury looks like a new man between the pipes, our lines are coming together and we're on the road to the playoffs...most people would agree with it. It's tough to find a new way to say that, and I think that's why most blogs sound similar, at least those of the same team.

But really, we're all here for the same reason, and that's because we love the sport of hockey, no matter what color jersey it happens to be dressed in. That, in and of itself, makes us similar. And WOW, did I ramble....sorry! :)

hockeygirl said...

we've got enough people that somebody else will have the time/energy/inspiration to take it up and run with it.

I think that this is it - before you newbies came along [;)] it was hard to get discussions going. I love the some days when I get so many comment notifications in my email and am excited to respond because I know after someone read it I said something that made them think or laugh (usually it's the latter).

Am I hallucinating, or did any of you find the same thing when you started blogging?

I found this to be key once I started communicating with Jordi, then Sherry and then HLOG started and I'm so impressed with how it's grown - I don't think we had any idea how it would take off.

How do you maintain your own distinct voice and perspective within your particular community?

The beginning for me was interesting - I wasn't really sure what I wanted to talk about and I admit it may have been a little PBish (which you called me out on and I thank you for that). Once the season started though I just posted what I found interesting and random thoughts about the team. The SuperPost brought about a lot of conversation and I think that was a turning point - suddenly people were reading. It also made me realize that what I post is what I want to post, I write for me and if people like it - awesome; if not, they can carry on. I have to admit though that I was a bit worried when 4 new Flames blogs showed up in as many weeks because I liked being one of the few Flames blogs out there. I see now though how great it is to have everybody in our little community (and it's interesting that we have such a number in Toronto. Represent!)

What are things you did to help your community and fellow bloggers grow and become more interesting?

I think the most important thing is to comment. Leaving a thought, long or short, encourages conversation. I started reading other blogs and commenting which brought more people to mine, it's all give and take. As I came to know other bloggers if I saw something while strolling the web that pertained to their team or favourite player, I would be sure to send it along. You start to associate a person with the team and keep them in mind when you hear/see stuff about the team, like, really, who doesn't see Dion and think of me? =) This being said, as I have kept my eyes open I have found that I am more aware of the league and it's happenings than I was previously.

Wow, I too can ramble. I'm glad that you decided to join us - both the Flames blogosphere and HLOG.

leanne said...

Thanks for the feedback, everybody...

I guess initially I was a bit taken aback by how quickly our blog was noticed by others (I sent a short email off to HG, and Dave posted a comment on Five Hole Fanatics), and it seemed to snowball from there... admittedly, our timing was a bit weird in terms of the number of other blogs which were created at the same time.

In real life I'm a pretty cautious person, so I think I'm trying to give myself time to be introspective and catch up with everything else that's been going on. Also, I've never written very much aimed at a large audience, so I'm also trying to figure out what it is exactly I want to say to them, of course...